Walton Casuals 1-2 Tiverton Town
By Simon Ellis
Yellows claim vital three points
Recent points gained by the Yellows have been described as vital and crucial and rightly so as they look to cement a place in the Premier Division for another season, read the same type of description for the latest victory in their first ever trip to Walton Casuals Elmbridge Sports Hub stadium. Levi Landricombe, playing his last match of the season, fired the Yellows ahead with his twenty first league goal of the season barely ninety seconds after the second half had started, Cole Brown won and converted a penalty to bring the sides level just three minutes later before Josh Key secured the victory with a swerving twenty five yard strike for one of the best goals seen all season.
Ben Mammola (absent), Steve Colwell (injured) and Tom Gardner made way from those who had fought back brilliantly to earn at point at Basingstoke last time out and in to the starting XI came Callum Hall, Max Smallcombe and Tom Bath while the visitors, who had beaten Frome 4-1 in their last encounter, were captained by goalkeeper Denzel Gerrar for the fiftieth time this season, Gradi Milenge filled in again for the suspended Tommy Brewster and in form striker James Ewington was looking for his 50th goal of the season.
The Yellows record on artificial surfaces made for grim reading prior to kick off, in fact you have to go back to February 2014 to find the last victory on plastic, a two-nil League Cup win at Merthyr and had the hosts gone in ahead at the interval there would have been few in the way of complaints but in football, as the Yellows have found to their cost on ocassions, you have to make the most of the time when you are in control. The hosts created more of the clear cut openings in the opening forty five and only the frame of the goal and the excellence of supporters Man of the Match Liam Armstrong kept them at bay and as is usually the case, if you don’t take your chances whent they come along, you pay for it. Quite how it led to Levi Landricombe firing the Yellows ahead I didn’t see but what I did see was him sprinting past static defenders and finding himself one-on-one with Casuals keeper Gerrar and the rest, as they say, is history as he coolly slotted home league goal number twenty one for the season in his final appearance (hopefully not ever) of what has been another excellent campaign for our prolific number ten.
The Yellows lead lasted just three minutes though. The normally composed and assured Jamie Price got his goalkeeper in trouble with a short back header and Cole Brown, who had passed up several good opportunities to open the scoring in the first half, nipped in, poked the ball past Armstrong and then went to ground under the Bristol Rovers loanees attempt to win back the ball leaving referee Daniel Austin with no other option than to point to the spot and despite Armstrong guessing correctly, low to his right, which way Brown would go with his spot kick, the sides were once again level.
Both sides have flirted around at the wrong end of the Premier Division table for far too long this season and whoever could go on and seal the victory would, all bar the singing and dancing, confirm their place in the top level of the Southern League for another campaign. The Casuals seemed the more likely in stages to go on and seal the win as they penned the visitors back, Ewington thought he had fired them in front with goal number fifty only for his delight to be marred by an offside flag and just three minutes later Josh Key scored an absolute beauty to eventually seal the win and make the long trip home a happy one.
His swerving twenty-five yard strike just past the hour mark was a goal worthy of winning any match, Gerrar in the Casuals goal had no chance of getting anywhere near it, let alone keep it out, such was the purity of the strike. The hosts pressed hard for a second equaliser in the thirty-or-so minutes that remained but the Yellows held on, Armstrong with more some excellent goalkeeping, for a crucial win.
Tiverton: Liam Armstrong, Josh Key, Callum Hall, Jamie Price, Jordan Dyer, Michael Landricombe, Max Smallcombe, Tom Bath, Stewart Yetton, Levi Landricombe, Harrison Davis.
Subs not used: Scott Rogers, Tom Gardner, Isaac Furness, Steve Colwell.
Goal: Levi Landricombe 46 Josh Key 62.